Walking around campus, I live. I breathe, the cold air entering my lungs and exiting through my parted lips. I can’t exhale through my nostrils because the low temperature and the freezing wind causes an uncomfortable running of the nose, and so I can only breathe out into a tissue.
But the air that once hurt my very bones and caused every patch of meager flesh to vibrate with fear and chill, is now refreshing and delicious. There’s always a hint of woodsmoke in it, and snow piled up amongst the branches of bare trees. Not only are the smells now accessible to my senses, but also the sounds – the laughter, the murmurs, the ringtones and shouts, the starting up of cars and the shutting of windows – these don’t make me wince as they once did.
It is all life, surrounding me, astonishing me, comforting me and convincing me day after day that I am here, I am alive, I am well. Time passes bit by bit, but the watches and clocks hold no terror for me anymore. Where once I needed the seconds to fly and the minutes to race, I now accept their slow or fast movements as their own and trust to them. Where once my heartstrings pinched and my throat filled with that hard, unmistakable lump of emotion, now my pulse is quiet and normal and my throat is clear and dry.
Has the world changed? Surely not. It is only my relation to it that has.